While it may to some extent be something of a cliché subject, trying to survive on a student budget never has been and never will be particularly easy. Even for those who choose to take on part time work alongside their studies to help pay the bills, it’s often the case that there appears to be more going out than there is coming in. And of course, there’s the hectic and highly important social life to balance with the essentials, which only puts even greater strain on already tight finances.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest and most on-going expense of all is that of the accommodation you stay and while studying at university. If you were looking for student halls in St Andrews University for example, the accommodation you choose will have a huge impact on your time at university in general and certainly on how much cash you have left in your pocket at the end of the month. So with this in mind, what follows is a quick introductory guide to six essential tips for minimising student living costs and hopefully staying out of the red throughout the year:
1 – Choose Well in the First Place
First and foremost, it is important to make the right choice in the first place when it comes to the accommodation you choose. Choosing the right place in accordance with costs and value for money doesn’t necessarily mean just choosing the cheapest place as there are other things to factor in. For example, it may be worth paying a little more for a centrally located place if this means you do not have to pay for transport every time you want to go anywhere. Consider the specifics of the place in terms of how much it will cost you in total rather than simply looking at the monthly rental price.
2 – Seek All-Inclusive Deals
If you are the kind of person who tends to use a lot of electricity and gas, there’s a good chance you could make huge savings by choosing an all inclusive deal when and where available. Not all landlords offer these kinds of deals, but if you come across a deal where all utility bills and added charges are included in the monthly rent payment, you will always know how much you owe and never get any nasty surprises. There is also the chance that you could save a small fortune, depending on your usage.
3 – Go Out in Winter
It may sound like a strange idea at first, but if you are living in a flat or house which is expensive to heat during the wintertime, it’s never a bad idea to make the effort to spend some time out of the house. From cafes to libraries to friends’ houses and really anywhere else you can think of, the simple fact of the matter is that any time you are not using your own heating, you’re not paying for it.
4 – Cook in Bulk
One of the most effective and well followed tips of all when it comes to minimising costs as a student is to cook meals in bulk and portion them out for future use. Strange as it may sound, it often costs little more to make several portions of a meal than it would to make just one or two portions and the effort required will be all but identical. As such, it is in your best interests to buy in bulk, cook your meals in bulk and then freeze them to be used at a later date.
5 – Get Some Exercise
Despite there often being discounts available, one of the biggest expenses as a student is often that of transportation. Those bus fairs, train tickets and taxi bills soon add up over the course of a week, month and year, which if you’re willing to get out and get physical can often be cut down to an absolute minimum. And of course, it may be worth to invest in a bike to use whenever the weather permits.
6 – Use Your Discounts
Last but not least, never forget that your student discounts are there to be used and can save you a small fortune. Even if the discounts are valid only at the kind of shops you would never normally use, it’s a good idea to modify your shopping and spending habits accordingly in order to ensure you make the most of your discounts. By shopping wisely and planning your expenses in accordance with these discounts, it’s perfectly possible that you could put your total living and shopping expenses by 20% or more.